China's parliament starts reading draft amendment to electoral law

2010-03-08 10:38 BJT

BEIJING, March 8 (Xinhua) -- China's top legislature started Monday to discuss granting equal representation in people's congresses to rural and urban people.

The second plenary meeting of the Third Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) is held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 8, 2010. Wang Zhaoguo, vice chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, made an explanation of a draft amendment to the Electoral Law, which provides legal guarantees for elections of deputies to people's congresses, during the meeting on Monday. (Xinhua/Liu Weibing)
The second plenary meeting of the Third Session of the 11th National 
People's Congress (NPC) is held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, 
capital of China, March 8, 2010. Wang Zhaoguo, vice chairman of the NPC 
Standing Committee, made an explanation of a draft amendment to the Electoral
Law, which provides legal guarantees for elections of deputies to people's 
congresses, during the meeting on Monday. (Xinhua/Liu Weibing)

A draft amendment to the Electoral Law, tabled at the ongoing annual full session of the National People's Congress (NPC) for third reading, aims to balance elections of lawmakers.

It requires "both rural and urban areas adopt the same ratio of deputies to the represented population in elections of people's congress deputies."

Lawmakers convened Monday morning their second plenary meeting of the 10-day session in the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing.

The Electoral Law was enacted in 1953 and completely revised in 1979. It then underwent four minor amendments.

Explaining the draft to lawmakers, Wang Zhaoguo, vice chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, said the law provides legal guarantees for elections of deputies to people's congresses, the country's fundamental political system, as well as citizens' right to vote and the right to stand for election.

After the last amendment in 1995, the law stipulated that each rural deputy represented a population four times that of an urban deputy. Critics said this could be interpreted as "farmers only enjoying a quarter of the suffrage of their urban counterparts."

Before the amendment in 1995, the difference was eight times. "Such stipulations were absolutely necessary and conformed with China's political system and the particular situation at that time," Wang said.

According to the 1953 national census, the urban population made up only about 13 percent. The rural population was much more than that of cities at that time and an equal ratio of rural and urban representation would have meant an excessive number of rural deputies.

With rapid urbanization and rural economic development, the proportion of urban population increased to 46.6 percent last year, he said, adding people's congresses at all levels have gone through many terms of elections, accumulating abundant experience.

"The time was right for equal representation," which was conducive to expand democracy, he said.

The second plenary meeting of the Third Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) is held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 8, 2010. (Xinhua/Liu Weibing)
The second plenary meeting of the Third Session 
of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) is 
held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, 
capital of China, March 8, 2010. (Xinhua/Liu Weibing)

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